For Flood-Damaged Businesses, Shumlin Announces Aid

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(Host) Governor Peter Shumlin has announced the creation of a special loan program to help businesses that have suffered flood damage this spring. The program will be available across the state.

Shumlin says the goal is to get money out to businesses quickly, with virtually no red tape. The loans will be capped at $25,000 per business. VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.

(Kinzel) The Dente family has owned and operated a market in downtown Barre for the past 104 years. Two weeks ago the future of the market was in doubt as 3 feet of flood water filled up the store.

Under the program announced by the Governor, businesses like Dente’s will be eligible to receive up to a $25,000 loan. There will be no interest and no payments in the first year of the loan, and businesses will pay 1 percent interest over the next five years.

State officials are hoping to turn around loan applications within a five day period. Rick Dente says the program will help businesses like his deal with their immediate needs:

(Dente) "I think it’s a great stop gap – to get over that hump, get your inventory back. So I think it will work well. I plan on applying for a sum of money and I know it will help and I hope all the other businesses that can use it will do it also."

(Kinzel) The Governor says the program will use a million dollars of state funds to leverage another $3 million of emergency economic development money.

(Shumlin) "To help businesses like this one get inventory back in shape, make infrastructure investments or deal with other capital needs. And we want to get that money out immediately. The simple plan is – this is not a hand out, it’s a hand up."

(Kinzel) The plan needs the approval of the state’s Emergency Board. The Board will be meeting next week and the Governor says he’s confident the loan program will be approved at that time.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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